gardenphyllisophyBy Phyllis Galowitz

July is probably the best month in the garden. It’s a great time to visit other people’s gardens or to make a trip to a botanical garden to see new ideas. The Andes Library is planning its annual Garden Tour on July 10th. Be sure to see it. We’ve chosen a group of gardens, each with a different look, all beautiful. You’re sure to find exciting compositions to try in your garden.

The plentiful rains have made the grass, trees and bushes lush and green and they create a good background that requires minimal care. Perennials are blooming, adding color to the tapestry. Vegetables are well on their way and you can see at a glance if something is missing and fill the space with annuals. This is a good time to purchase some new perennials. They’re in bloom in the garden shops, so you can see what the flowers look like and they may even be on sale at a good price. Garden shops must get rid of their stock. They’re probably leggy and straggly, but they’ll come back next year and be fine.

One of my neighbors planted a variety of sunflowers last year. They bloomed all summer with vibrant colors that moved softly in the wind. Coreopsis is airy and delicate and comes in bright to soft shades. It blooms profusely and for a long time.

Mulching is done more easily in early spring when the garden is dormant, but it can also be accomplished, a little at a time, improving the site as you weed or introduce new plants. This will reduce the need for water and keep the weeds from growing. Another way of reducing the need for water is to use hydro-gels, available from most garden suppliers. They condition soils and make them water-retentive. They are sold in a dry powder form, or crystals, and come in grades from ultra-fine to coarse. There are many brands on the market but they’re not all the same. Only those that contain 94% copolymer will hold up. The cheaper ones are fine for use in containers where they only have to last for one season. They may reduce the need for water by 75%.


Coreopsis in bloom

If you are planting new plants, incorporate the hydro-gels with water before using and add it to the bottom of the container or planting hole and place the plant above it—a heaping tablespoon for a 4 inch pot, a quarter cup for 2 gallon pots. To introduce gel to established plants, make a number of deep, narrow holes around the root zone, and fill them with a mixture of gel and compost. Water well, mulch, and over time, notice the difference. Gels can also be used in the vegetable garden, but should not be used with root crops. The gel must be mixed well or it can cause root rot instead of healthy plants.

Take the time to enjoy summer in the garden and watch the flowers grow. ~